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Tuesday’s forum tackles consequences of marijuana DUI

Rocklin Police Chief serves as emcee
By: Gloria Beverage, Placer Herald Editor
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A forum on the consequences of being under the influence of marijuana while driving will be presented Tuesday at Sierra College. Rocklin Police Chief Ron Lawrence will serve as emcee for the forum, “Buzz Kill,” starting at 11 a.m. in the Dietrich Theater. “I think that programs like MADD and educational efforts by law enforcement agencies nationwide have had a major effect on drunk driving,” said Jon Hamblen, manager of parking, security and residence life at Sierra College. “However, there hasn’t been much of an effort made to address driving under the influence of marijuana or prescription medication, which often times can affect individual’s reaction times and impair their ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.” The forum, he continued, will give students an opportunity “to see that law enforcement does encounter people who are operating motor vehicles under the influence of substances other than alcohol.” He added that the consequences of driving under the influence of marijuana – both legally and in terms of safety – are similar to driving under the influence of alcohol. Rocklin Police Chief Ron Lawrence hopes the information provided during the forum will save lives. “Even some adults don’t understand the dangers -- whether it’s marijuana or alcohol,” he said. “They’re accustomed to driving a motor vehicle, but don’t realize their motor skills are delayed.” Due to rising concerns over the number of marijuana DUIs in Placer County, area law enforcement agencies, health centers and community groups have partnered to sponsor this event. “This forum is about education and awareness,” Lawrence continued. “We want to reach out and develop relationships (with teens and young adults) to save their lives and get them on the right track.” A new study conducted by Liberty Mutual Insurance and Students Against Destructive Decisions says that one in five teen drivers report they have driven under the influence of marijuana. “Marijuana affects memory, judgment and perception and can lead to poor decisions when a teen under the influence of this or other drugs gets behind the wheel of a car,” said Stephen Wallace, senior advisor for Policy, Research and Education at SADD. “What keeps me up at night is that this data reflects a dangerous trend toward the acceptance of marijuana and other substances compared to our study of teens conducted just two years ago. In that study, Liberty Mutual Insurance and SADD found that 78 percent of teens were at the other end of the spectrum, characterizing marijuana use as “very” or “extremely” distracting to their driving. The forum will include a mock marijuana DUI trial and a panel discussion on the judicial aspects and treatment services. Hip Hop Congress and Rachel Amare-Jones will perform during the forum. Before the conference begins, graffiti artist Douglas Kleinsmith will create a painting on canvas in front of the theater. Information and resource booths will be provided by New Leaf, Community Recovery Resources, Center Point Inc., Recovery Now, Re-Entry, Aegis Medical Systems and AA/NA. Organizers and sponsors include Sierra College, Placer County Mental health Alcohol and Drug Board, Coalition for Placer Youth, Placer County District Attorney, Unity Care, Recovery Now and Hip Hop Congress For more information, call Hamblen at (916) 660-7382 or jhamblen@sierracollege.edu. Sierra College is located at 5000 Rocklin Road. There is no charge to attend this event, however, there is a $2 parking fee on campus. Parking permits can be purchased at dispensers located in the parking lot.